In Their Own Words: Research and Preparation

H. Biemann Othersen, Jr., M.D.

“At that time, we didn't have all the sophisticated drugs, like cyclosporine, that reduces the reaction or rejection process. We were focusing on using something to deplete the lymphocytes, because in the blood it's the lymphocytes that attack what the body recognizes as being foreign, and that's what attacks them and kills them. These are so-called killer lymphocytes.

And there are two approaches, and Dr. Artz and Dr. Fitts approached it by draining off the lymphocytes. There's a lymphatic duct in the body that drains a lot of the lymphocytes from the gut, and then up through the chest, drains it up into the big vein here in the neck, the left side of the neck. And their approach was to put a cannula into that duct; to put a little needle, a plastic tube, into that duct and drain off all those lymphocytes, and by draining them to deplete them. Then there wouldn't be as many lymphocytes around to attack the transplanted kidney.”

Lloyd L. Martin

“We had a technique that we developed. Mr. Hargest, Tom Hargest, was the one who developed the tips that we could put in the thoracic ducts that hooked onto Silastic tubing and came out of the animal and then collected in a bag. Once the bag was full or partially full, sufficient amount where we use -- spin it down and remove the white cells or the lymphocytes, and then were studies going on about which ones of the lymphocyte cells was the one that was causing rejection. And there was a lot of discussion about whether they were T-cells or B-cells or which cell it was. And we were doing that, and [cutting] in the middle of that, we transferred that work here.”

Joyce A. Townes

“I would stay in the room day and night with a mask. We would play cards or I’d try to get him to help me paint by numbers or something.”

H. Biemann Othersen, Jr., M.D.

“Dr. Artz and Dr. Fitts felt very comfortable with the lymphocyte depletion; they had a done a lot of work on it, they had the engineer all tuned up to that type of thing; and we had not made any anti-lymphocyte serum here. So, that tipped the balance in that direction.”